Financial Management Consultants, an IT consultancy that encourages users to sue suppliers, has been forced to withdraw a controversial claim to have "never lost a case in over 600 computer disputes".
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) this week upheld a complaint brought by the Business and Accounting Software Alliance (Basda) that this claim was incorrect as it did not hold true for two cases it had identified. FMC disputed the basis for the complaint.
The ASA ruled that FMC's assertion, which was contained in a direct mailshot sent to hundreds of UK businesses advertising the firm's computer dispute resolution services, could not be substantiated.
Basda objected to the advertising on the grounds that FMC clients had in one case withdrawn their action, and in another had received an adverse High Court judgement and incurred substantial costs.
FMC's ambulance chasing tactics have won it few friends in the IT vendor and reseller community. It has been accused of encouraging users to pursue claims against suppliers without presenting the full facts about its success rate.
Companies that sign up with FMC are generally required to sign non disclosure agreements, making it difficult for anyone to establish the success or otherwise of FMC in its cases.
In one case three years ago, shelving supplier Rapid Racking claimed to have incurred legal costs of more than £200,000 after using FMC's services to unsuccessfully pursue a case against Multisoft, a subsidiary of accountancy software vendor Sage.
A number of other companies have publicly noted their dissatisfaction with the cost of FMC's services, particularly when cases may not even reach court without substantial costs.
A spokeswoman for Basda said the organisation had taken the action following complaints from its members and was "reasonably satisfied" with the outcome.
"It's answered our major complaint," she said.
A second objection by Basda that the mailing was misleading, because out of court settlements were subject to non disclosure provisions and could not be publicly scrutinised, was not upheld.
In a statement, FMC said it had been "vindicated" by this ruling.
"ASA threw out Basda's objection that the mailshot was misleading. The other objection, disputing whether FMC had ever lost a case in over 600 cases, was upheld, but only because it was physically impossible to supply for the ASA's inspection case files for every matter handled by FMC since it was founded 19 years ago," the statement read.
Businesses should be aware that disputes could frequently be resolved without resorting to litigation, the Basda spokeswoman noted.
"Using organisations like FMC can be an expensive option for users - it might be cheaper or free to use the Basda mediation service," she said.
Ironically FMC was this week touting a user survey, undertaken in June of last year, that claimed 40 per cent of users would not go back to the supplier of their computer system because of problems with their systems, or systems failing to meet the original specifications.
Unsurprisingly, FMC's concluding advice is to use lawyers and consultants before embarking on major IT investments - it will pay dividends in future. Not all of FMC's former clients would necessarily agree.
A nuclear strike has been considered, but Bruce Willis is nowhere in sight
Spray-on antenna could enable seamless integration of antennas with everyday objects
Parker Solar Probe, TESS and GOLD missions will deliver exciting data, claims NASA
But deep learning pulls ahead for complex tasks